James Madison

(from America's God and Country by William J. Federer)

Religion [is] the basis and Foundation of Government.

June 20, 1785

In the 1785 session of the General Assembly of the State of Virginia, James 
Madison explained in his Religious Freedom, A Memorial and Remonstrance,
why he was against the Establishment of Religion by Law:

It is the duty of every man to render to the Creator such homage... Before any man can be considered as a member of Civil Society, he must be considered as a subject of the Governor of the Universe.

Because the policy of the bill is adverse to the diffusion of the light of Christianity. The first wish of those who ought to enjoy this precious gift, ought to be, that it may be imparted to the whole race of mankind. Compare the number of those who have as yet received it, with the number still remaining under the dominions of false religions, and how small is the former! Does the policy of the bill tend to lessen the disproportion? No; it at once discourages those who are strangers to the light of Truth, from coming into the regions of it...

Whilst we assert for ourselves a freedom to embrace, to profess, and to observe the Religion which we believe to be of divine origin, we cannot deny an equal freedom to those whose minds have not yet yielded to the evidence which has convinced us. If this freedom be abused, it is an offense against God, not against man: To God, therefore, not to man, must an account of it be rendered.

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